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Kapurthala teacher climbs atop 100-ft tank,sets herself on fire

Protesting against the Punjab government in support of their demands,a teacher climbed atop a 100-foot high water tank here and tried to end her life by setting herself on fire.

Suffers 90 pc burns; 4 others refuse to come down till govt accepts their demand for ETT degrees

Protesting against the Punjab government in support of their demands,a teacher climbed atop a 100-foot high water tank here and tried to end her life by setting herself on fire. Kiranjeet (27),a resident of Faridkot district,suffered 90 per cent burns and her condition is stated to be critical.

The incident took place near Punjab Education Minister Upinderjit Kaur’s residence in Kapurthala on Sunday. Kiranjeet,along with other teachers under the aegis of the Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) Union,had been protesting for a long time,demanding degrees under the Elementary Teachers’ Training (ETT) after admission in the course. All these teachers have taught children up to Class VIII under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan scheme in slums and remote areas of the state for over five years. Intensifying their protest on Sunday,five teachers climbed atop the water tank around 2 pm,even as another group went towards the minister’s residence to stage a demonstration. While the police stopped this group on the way,the five climbed the water tank without any disruption.

“All five were carrying kerosene. After reaching on the top of the water tank,they started threatening to set themselves on fire if their demands were not met,” said an eyewitness,adding that Deputy Superintendent of Police Bahadur Singh was also present at the spot but dismissed their threats as “drama”.

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Eyewitnesses said when the DSP stopped others from reaching out to Kiranjeet after she had set herself on fire,the teachers attacked him,but he managed to escape from the spot.

The protestors alleged that the teachers were only threatening to burn themselves,but the police officer’s “undesirable” comments provoked Kiranjeet to take the extreme step. By the time she came down,Kiranjeet had sustained serious burns,said one of the protestors. Kiranjeet was initially rushed to the civil hospital from where she was later referred to the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital in Ludhiana. Soon after the fire incident,an angry mob rushed towards the education minister’s residence,threatening to set it on fire. The police had a tough time controlling them.

Four teachers were still on the tank till the filing of this report. They are Jyoti of Kapurthala,Kirandeep of Moga,Manjeet of Jaiton and Simarjit Singh of Mansa,a senior leader of the union.

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Armed with a public address system,Senior Superintendent of Police Ram Singh and Deputy Commissioner Raj Kamal Chaudhary reached the spot in the evening and appealed to them to come down,assuring that the government was ready to listen to their demands. Sub-Divisional Magistrate Kuldeep Singh even climbed atop the tank to persuade them,but failed to convince the teachers. President of the Jalandhar unit of EGS Union Jarnail Singh demanded that DSP Bahadar Singh be immediately dismissed and booked for abetment to suicide.

A meeting was on between the DC,the SSP and local Congress leader Rana Gurjit Singh till late at night to decide the next course of action.

DSP Bahadur Singh he said he was busy and could not speak at the moment. According to Simarjit,there were 2,700 EGS teachers in Punjab who taught for five years under the SSA,but the government later started “expelling” them.

First published on: 08-02-2010 at 02:48 IST
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